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St. Paul Saints try to survive big blow to pitching staff

“The rotation finally got some good news” a St. Paul Saints press release read last week after signing pitcher Kramer Sneed. The club had lost three of their top pitchers during the last 18 days and have struggled on the field while trying to keep a lead in the race for a division title.

The Saints have seven games left on their regular-season schedule, all at CHS Field, and hold a three-game edge over Winnipeg. Their path to winning back-to-back north division championships, however, got a little more difficult when John Straka, Dan Johnson and Eric Veglahn were picked up by major league organizations.

Since the first departure on Aug. 12, the Saints are 5-12.

Straka and Veglahn’s contracts were purchased by the Toronto Blue Jays. Straka, the 26-year-old Chaska native, was 10-3 with a 4.48 ERA with the Saints and joined the Blue Jays Double-A team. Veglahn, the 22-year-old St. Thomas grad, was 3-4 with a 4.39 ERA, and will join the Blue Jays rookie team in the Appalachian League.

Johnson, the former major leaguer, had his contract purchased by the Los Angeles Dodgers and joined the club’s Double-A affiliate in Tulsa. Johnson, 37, is trying to revive his career as knuckleball pitcher and was 4-3 with a 4.50 ERA as a starter for the Saints.

This trio combined for 17 wins, but the addition of Sneed adds a 15-game winner to the rotation. The Saints also made several big moves in the past two weeks to help bolster the offense. They traded for power-hitting infielder David Bergin and re-signed last year’s American Association Player of the Year Vinny DiFazio.

Despite these losses and additions, the Saints still have one of the league’s best pitchers to fall back on. Mark Hamburger, the former major leaguer from Shoreview and Twins prospect, leads the league with 12 wins and six complete games, and is among the top 10 leaders with a 3.21 ERA and 91 strikeouts. Read more about Hamburger in a recent City Pages feature.

The Saints open their series against second-place Winnipeg Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at CHS Field. 

Zimmer vs. local media gets national TV attention during Vikings game

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer avoided conflict in Sunday’s postgame press conference by starting the conversation with what Star Tribune columnist Chip Scoggins called “a friendly jab at the assembled media.”

“I hope I don’t get any questions about his arm,” Zimmer said with a smile.

Zimmer was alluding to the questioning he received all week after a last-minute decision to bench quarterback Teddy Bridgewater before the Week 2 preseason game in Seattle. Instead of explaining the reasoning behind his decision, Zimmer said Bridgewater didn’t play “Because I sat him. … Because I wanted to.”

This response started a minor squabble between Zimmer and the local media over the past week and led to a handful of awkward exchanges. The tiff even caught the attention of national media and was briefly addressed during Sunday’s preseason game on FOX.

Announcers Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch were discussing Bridgewater’s leadership qualities when Lynch said “He’s a leader and a great person on top of it. When I talked to Mike Zimmer, I said ‘Mike, you’ve been a little prickly with the local press and their handling of Teddy Bridgewater and he said ‘You know why, because he’s a great person, No. 1. He wants to be great and he works to be great and he knows how to play the game and he knows how to win. What is there not to like and love about Teddy Bridgewater.' ”

Zimmer reminded the media earlier in the week he won’t talk about injuries, so it's not completely clear what led to the lack of transparency, the injury or the desire to defend Bridgewater's character. But it appears both sides might have resolved the issue for now. 

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Twins at Cleveland

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Fort Lauderdale

    6:30 pm on CBSSN

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • L.A. Rams at Vikings (preseason)

    7 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Winnipeg at Saints

    7:05 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Oregon State at Gophers football

    8 pm on BTN, 107.9-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    6:30 pm

  • Washington at Lynx

    7 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    7:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    6:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Rayo OKC at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch.29

  • Lincoln at Saints

    7:05 pm on 106.1-FM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Chicago White Sox at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    5:05 pm on 1220-AM

  • Connecticut at Lynx

    6 pm on FSN, 106.1-FM

  • Lincoln at Saints

    11:05 am on 1220-AM

  • Canterbury Park live racing

    12:45 pm

  • Kansas City at Twins

    1:10 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

Today's Scoreboard

  • Toronto

    Baltimore

     

    - Top 4th

    0

    1

  • Washington

    Philadelphia

     

    - Top 3rd

    2

    0

  • Tampa Bay

    Boston

     

    - Bot 2nd

    0

    1

  • Minnesota

    Cleveland

     

    - Top 3rd

    0

    0

  • Chicago White Sox

    Detroit

     

    - Top 3rd

    0

    0

  • Miami

    NY Mets

     

    - Bot 2nd

    0

    0

  • St. Louis

    Milwaukee

     

    - Bot 2nd

    0

    0

  • Pittsburgh

    Chicago Cubs

    7:05 PM

  • Seattle

    Texas

    7:05 PM

    ESPN

  • Oakland

    Houston

    7:10 PM

  • NY Yankees

    Kansas City

    7:15 PM

  • LA Dodgers

    Colorado

    7:40 PM

  • Cincinnati

    LA Angels

    9:05 PM

No NFL games today

No NBA games today

No NHL games today

No MLS games today